St. Bartholomew’s, Burwash

St Bartholomew's, Burwash, East Sussex

That this church is beautiful there can be no doubt, but if the Victorians had left more than just the Norman tower to St Bartholomew’s, and not ‘restored’ it, I think we would all have enjoyed it even more. Dating from 1090 – only 24 years after the ‘dread fight on Senlac Hill’, the Battle of Hastings, it was built in the local style of stone and clay-tile. Senlac Hill, and Battle Abbey, are only 8 miles away, so this area was amongst the very first to feel the grip of the Normans. 

Burwash had a world-famous inhabitant in Rudyard Kipling, who lived at nearby ‘Bateman’s’ a former iron-master’s house. The war memorial outside St Bartholomew’s bears an inscription to 1st Lt John Kipling, Irish Guards – the author’s only son, who was reported wounded and missing on his first day in action, 27th September, 1915, during the Battle of Loos. Rudyard and Carrie Kipling searched for years for him, hoping that he was only incapacitated or a prisoner of war; it wasn’t until 1919 that they accepted his death. Kipling’s poem ‘My Boy Jack’, written in 1915, is extremely poignant.

Postwar, he also joined the Imperial War Graves Commission, and travelled extensively throughout the former battlefield areas of France and Belgium. It is thought that he and his wife Carrie were always hoping to find news of their son, jack. Alas, his body was never positively identified.

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